(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched Tuesday’s episode of “Prison Break”)
In Tuesday’s premiere of the “Prison Break” revival on Fox, it’s revealed that Wentworth Miller’s “Michael Scofield” is being held captive in “Ogygia,” a Yemeni prison reserved for “heavy hitters, political prisoners.”
So where did Ogygia get its name? Not locally, that’s for sure.
“Ogygia” isn’t an Arabic word, it’s Greek. First mentioned in Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Ogygia is the name of the island home of the Nymph Calypso, daughter of the Titan Atlas (the guy Greeks believed held up the sky). In the epic poem, Greek hero Odysseus lands on Ogygia during his wanderings, and quickly becomes Calypso’s lover before finding himself trapped by Calypso’s semidivine superpowers. She holds him prisoner — basically her sex slave — for seven years before finally being commanded by the Gods to release Odysseus and let him resume his quest to return home to Greece.
The events of the Odyssey were taken for granted as fact by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who hotly debated the location of Ogygia. Some identified it with the Maltese island of Gorzo, while others claimed “Ogygia” was the earliest name for Egypt, while still others said it was in the Atlantic ocean.
But Ogygia could also be inspired by a very real place, a Yemeni prison that was the site of a real-life prison break in 2006, when 23 prisoners included Jamal Ahmed Badawi, mastermind of the U.S.S. Cole bombing, broke out. The same prison was the site of an even more brazen breakout in 2015, when 1,200 prisoners busted out.